29 October 2011

OpenFest 2011

Image: OpenFest website

Next weekend, on the 5 and 6 November 2011 I will be attending OpenFest 2011.

OpenFest has been organised annually since 2003 as  a conference dedicated to free culture and the free sharing of knowledge.
As such, the event mainly attracts visitors interested in or involved in the process of creation or marketing of free and open source software.

While the most visitors are expected to be from Bulgaria, OpenFest is designed to be an international event and its organisers have once again managed to invite a good amount of international speakers.

If you would you like to know to what extent

you may charge for free and/or open source software

then you should not miss the presentation in the form of a lightning talk, which I will be giving there.

In a strict accordance with the conference`s purpose, the admittance shall be free.

26 October 2011

Twitter Hit By A Software Patent

Image: I use Twitter wrong by topgold on Flickr
I use Twitter wrong

According to a report on the popular patent blog PatentlyO the Virginia based VS Technologies LLC commenced legal proceedings against Twitter earlier this year, claiming the infringement of its US Patent # 6,408,309.

The ‘309 patent was filed in 2000 and comprises basically

a method and system for creating an interactive virtual community of famous people, or those people who wish to attain the status of a famous person, in a field of endeavor, such as arts, accounting, animal rights, business, education, engineering, entertainment, financing, government affairs, human rights, legal, medical, philanthropy, politics, religion, research, science, sports, etc. The virtual community of the present invention is unique in that the members of the virtual community can update, modify or revise their individual profile, and interact with other members of the virtual community, as well as the non-members of the virtual community.

Interestingly, Justice Henry Coke Morgan Jr. denied Twitter’s motion for summary judgment, ruling that VS Technologies’ patented technology satisfies the machine-or-transformation test under Bilski.

Hear ye, hear ye.

A patent attorney led patent troll in an attempt to put the fear of God into the micro-blogging giant.
Sounds promising, does it not?

However, being a doubting Thomas would not be one of my firm principles, if I was convinced of the ‘309 patent’s novelty and non-obviousness. Hence, I do not expect that the patent in suit will stand serious judicial review.

Anyway, I will stay tuned in the matter and provide you with the updates.

19 October 2011

Patent Troll Goes On Sale

The Troll

Just read about the company Innovatio IP Ventures LLC, which was formed only some months ago in 2011 and, which is considered a patent troll, had purchased a number of patents that, according to Innovatio, encompass certain WiFi and WLAN technologies.

Innovatio are currently approaching small businesses such as coffee shops, hotel and restaurant chains that offer WiFi to their customers demanding the payment of royalties in the range of $ 2 000 – 5 000.

Does anyone still believe that software patents do not merit talking about?

Well, Innovatio have allegedly pledged not to pursue individuals using WiFi, but for how long since they are dealing from the bottom of the deck?

4 October 2011

HTC Joins Apple On The Road To Perdition

Image: 800px-HTC_Evo_4G by Anya1986 on Flickr

Do you remember Apple’s disrespect of their customers’ privacy?

It now turns out that the Taiwanese

HTC ain’t any better

in that respect.

Privacy International, whom I follow on Google Reader issued an article citing a very detailed report prepared by Artem Russakovski, Justin Case and Trevor Eckhart and made available on the Android Police website.

It turns out that HTC, in the absence of any corresponding consent, collect the personal data of their users and share that data with third parties.

Assuming that HTC have deployed the same business model also within the European Union, they have committed some

serious breaches

under the applicable data protection and privacy legislation here.

First, HTC should be aware of the fact that by processing personal data they act as a data controller and are therefore under the obligation to process the data fairly and lawfully and only for an explicit and legitimate purpose.

Second, when processing personal data, HTC must ensure that the buyers and users of their mobile devices, i.e. the data subjects have served HTC with an

explicit consent

to that data processing.

Not that HTC fail to obtain that explicit consent, they moreover mislead their users!

It is said to work like that: HTC ostensibly offer their users the option not to allow the collection and use of personal information, but even if the users select that option, HTC collects and processes the data anyway.

And third, by so doing, HTC have failed to prevent an

unwarranted intrusion

into the private sphere of their users.

I think that HTC, being a major competitor to Apple, should offer its customers a set of good privacy options, in order to create an advantage over the Cupertino company.

Instead, HTC seems to have opted to spy on and fool their customers thereby joining Apple on the road to perdition…

How about you?

Would you prefer one mobile device manufacturer over another, if it offers you a better privacy protection?

2 October 2011

Hóigh, Facebook, How Deeply Do You Care About Data Protection?

Image: Hanover Quay – Dublin Docklands by informatique on Flickr
Hanover Quay - Dublin Docklands

Hanover Quay, Dublin 2.

That is the address of Facebook’s European headquarter or, strictly legally, the business seat of the Facebook Ireland Limited.

The above is important

as owing to Section 18 of Facebook’s Terms of Use, users who are not residents of the USA and Canada have their agreement to use the social network with Facebook’s Irish subsidiary.

That means that if you have any

data protection issues

with the Zuckerberg-led company, you are entitled to approach the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.

The Austrian based data protection advocacy group Europe vs Facebook already started doing this.
They have identified several breaches and have undertaken a number of actions, thereby including complaints and access requests and, have covered each of them on their website.


enforcing its powers

under Section 10 of the Data Protection Act, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner has started an investigation against Facebook.

I am curious what the outcome of the foregoing will be and will therefore monitor and provide for follow-ups.

By the way, how much do you care about what Facebook does with your data, but without your consent?